Archive | March, 2011

A Nice Rack

30 Mar

My friend Jonell and I found this little round, swivel rack at a flea market last fall.

It swivels and has a sweet little clipthing for a sign at the top.

Jonell picked it out as something she could use for wet mittens and gloves during the winter. I thought that was pretty innovative.

But after the winter, Jonell gave it to me. She said it didn’t fit where she wanted it, so she was passing it on to me or donating it. See, I admire Jonell. She’s a minimalist–truly. She doesn’t buy things because they’re cute and she’ll figure out what to do with them later. She buys things for a purpose. If they don’t work, she doesn’t store them away like most of us. She gets rid of them (like the rack).

But I’m not a minimalist. I am getting better at walking away from things that are just cute, and I’m getting better at sticking to a purpose when I shop. I think having limited storage and a written budget has helped me see the light in this matter.

But with all of that said, it is an awesome rack and I do love repurposing things. I’ve been staring at it for a month now trying to decide what to do with it. For now it’s in the dressing room holding some extra shoes, but I don’t think it will stay there. Something will strike me. I’ll just hold on to it until it does.

I think it can be so much more than a shoe rack, right?


A Round (the) Table

27 Mar

Last night MM (husband) said he loved eating at the table. I asked him why and he said it was because it felt like that’s what families should do. We were just having take-out pizza but we had set the table, which I think makes a meal feel more like a meal and less like just eating. When we don’t sit there, we park it around the island because we’re doing something quick or we’re just too lazy to walk the 10 extra feet to the dining room.

Two years ago we made the decision to turn the formal dining room into something more useful–a dining room we’d actually use. The table we had in there previously had been my parents’–a very chunky 1960s’ octagon style that was petite and pretty with the slip-covered chairs.


This is the "before" essentially--I loved those slipcovers but it didn't make sense for every day.

The room was a typical formal dining room, used three or four times a year and as a buffet when we had less formal gatherings. The heaviness of the chairs, not to mention the white fabric, were not a good option with two young children.

I gave the table and hutch to my sister and we lived with a table cloth-covered, plastic banquet table for several months while a search for the perfect table ensued.

In my mind, the perfect table consisted of something round and sturdy with a top that could stand up to lots of spills, banging forks and sweaty cups without coasters. I looked at those ones made from Canada with the wood that is supposedly impervious to stains. The one I picked out was like $1800 and I wasn’t completely sold on the look.

From the Canadel web site. This isn't it exactly but you get the picture.

Also, my sister, who owns one, reminded me that the wood still chipped if a certain one-year-old banged his utensils on it. So, I moved on.

Next I thought about an antique–something that had already been lovingly used and worn. My family could just add to the love. I didn’t like  the look of the typical oak ones I found most but I found this Walnut one tucked away in an antiques booth.

It's a dog but Steve is very convincing.

It wasn’t round but slightly oval with its drop leaves open. It was in poor condition and looked as if it had spent some time either outside or in a shed. My friend Steve, a former antiques dealer and consummate salesperson, convinced me it would be the perfect table “once it was cleaned up” and promised he’d buy it from me if it didn’t work.  I spent $120 on the table and another $250 having it cleaned up but “not too clean. Leave the patina,” I instructed my wood guy. When I picked it up, and Steve wasn’t with me, the wood guy told me to sell it to Steve.

After the drop leaves dropped twice as we were eating on them, I relegated it to a game table in the basement and ate crow with MM for wasting the money. Strangely, Steve seemed less interested in the table once it was dropping dishes at my house.

So then we were back at the plastic banquet table during Thanksgiving and I mentioned wanting a round table to my mother-in-law, Rita. Remember, Rita lived in this house and had her own table in this very dining room for 35+ years. She’s been very good over the years about not criticizing my changes (I think she’s thankful that we cleaned it up so much) but she is a typical mother-in-law with opinions. She did agree that a round table was a good option and mentioned that her mother always lamented getting rid of her own round table.

The very next day, in the midst of the annual Christmas  decorating chaos, Rita called to announce that she had found us THE table. MM was on the phone saying, “No! Don’t buy it! We’ll try to get there, Mom, but it’s a crazy day.” He was rolling his eyes. This was not the first time that she attempted to buy something for us that she thought we needed. When he got off the phone, he just sighed, “Well, my mom found us a table at the Salvation Army and they’re having a 25% off furniture sale today.” I laughed but admitted that I wasn’t above buying it there–I’d been scouring Craig’s List and antique stores after all. We both doubted it was going to be “our taste” but decided to check it out because we were headed in that direction to cut a Christmas tree.

Well, this time Rita scored. The table was gorgeous in every way. It was cool too–called a Perimeter Table, it has banana-shaped leaves that make it a larger round instead of an oval. When all of the leaves are in, it comfortably sits 10! We loved it and for $178, we loved it even more.

The Salvation Army table. I already owned the chairs, but they match awesome(ly).

Now it is almost black and it does show the nicks because the now three-year-old does bang his utensils, but I’m getting better at overlooking that. I like to think of every nick and scratch as our patina–us showing the love and using a dining table how it’s supposed to be used–for dining.




Out of the Closet

20 Mar

One of the best things about having a dressing room is that everything is out in the open. I’m not great at pre-planning my outfits each day, so this allows me to view most all of my clothes and accessories as I get ready. I dry my hair and turn to look at my current clothes (current meaning the current season, which I keep on the open rack) to figure out what I’ll put on. I’ve only had my clothes in there for over a month and I’m already amazed at how much less frustrating it is to have them all in front of me.

Same goes for my accessories.

I probably should have cleaned this up more but this is generally how it looks.

I’ve actually had this vintage blue garden rake for my necklaces for years. It’s an old Country Living idea, I believe. It sits to the left of my mirror and inspires my outfits, but is also just a fun piece of artwork in itself.

The little knobs at the bottom are my favorite part.

This screen hangs some of my earrings and is a new addition to this room. I picked it up for $12 on the same day I got the vintage coat rack. I love the slate bluish gray color and love that I didn’t have to do anything to it except put a couple nails up and hang it.

One of my next projects is to create a clever cork board to display some of my magazine clippings. I also may use some of my metal trays with some simple magnets to accomplish the same thing.

Any simple idea that makes your getting-ready routine easier? Please share.

My "New" Favorite Room

13 Mar

My favorite room right now is a new one in our house–not new structurally but newly imagined and slowly being developed. That is one of my favorite things about older homes–the idea that you can take a room that was initially designed for one purpose and reinvent it into something else. My friend, Suzanne, did that with her formal dining room. She had a typical long, 1950s formal living room and separate formal dining room. She moved her dining table (used twice a year, maybe) into one end of the living room and transformed her dining room into a home office. It’s brilliant and right off the kitchen, so it’s Home Central, which is nice.

My new favorite space is my Dressing Room. It started out as a guest room. It was kinda bland and barely used for guests, but it has two slider closets for some unknown reason. This space is also where I put on my make-up and do my hair in the morning. Our tiny powder pink bathroom doesn’t cut it for two getting ready so I bought this little desk at a garage sale and set myself up long ago.

I have gotten ready here for years.

So when it was time for our now three-year-old to give up his crib, I moved the Queen bed to his room. I then made MM go back to the urologist for a second “verification” that the Vasectomy worked, and I sold the crib on Craig’s List. With the bed gone from the room, I decided to take the room as ALL MINE.

I knew I’d need more hanging space, so I searched eBay and Craig’s List for something fun to use. I couldn’t find anything that would work and I really didn’t want to use a cheesy new chrome fixture, so I took a 30-minute drive to my favorite antiques store and this was the first thing I saw when I walked in. See, it was my density, I mean my destiny.

It's heavy-duty with a galvanized pipe that holds the hangers. I wish I had matching wood hangers, but someday . . .

My friend, Steve, thinks it’s an old coat rack custom-made for a church hall or something. At 6 feet long and 6 feet tall, it’s big and it took some work, but we got it into the room. At $75, the price was right. We actually spent more renting a pick-up to pick it up then we did on the actual piece–bugger.

Next I needed a place to put my discarded outfits when I can’t decide and am in too much of a hurry to hang them back up (which is a daily occurrence). An ottoman would be perfect–a beautiful round, skirted ottoman with tufted buttons and silk fabric–something feminine and glamorous. Something similar to this:

Nanette Lepore’s Eclectic Dressing Room Designed by Jonathan Adler.

I love this idea, but it’s not in my budget right now, so I started my search and found this baby on Craig’s list for $100.


It's not gorgeous yet, but it definitely had potential and the size is right on for the room.

And it’s awesome at 48 by 48 inches. I kind of wish it were round but I might look for a round rug to put under it. For now, I’m debating what to cover it with–a romantic, chintz slipcover with a pleated skirt and varying fabric (a custom job that could get pricey) or something more graphic (a juxtaposition of the floral motifs of my vintage trays on the wall) or maybe an animal print (a classic that, in my opinion, never goes out of style).

So stay tuned as this room unfolds. I envision curtains on one closet, new white doors with mirrors on the other closet (totally inspired by this post on The Lettered Cottage); pale pink shades on the chandelier and eventually some window mistreatments (name inspired by Nesting Place, although I’ve gotten pretty good at no-sew cornice boards myself).

So you newly constructed, and by newly I mean post-1980s, homes can have your walk-in closets. I have a dreamy dressing room set up to inspire my wardrobe and my style. And as for where my guests will sleep? A blow-up bed in the basement, Baby. It’s not as bad as it sounds (that’s where the flat-screen, the best shower and bar are). 🙂



The Not-So-Charming '50s

1 Mar

It is purely my opinion that a vast amount of charm got lost in the 1950s when it came to home design and construction. People who have older homes, those built in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, have front porches, solid wood doors, arched doorways, quaint bathroom tile, glass and crystal hardware and leaded glass windows. Of course these homes have their own set of problems, but an innate charming vibe sets them apart.

In homes, particularly tract homes in suburbs, of the 1950s, things got funky and not always in a good way. My home, and others in my neighborhood,  have to overcome issues like:

– Easter Egg-colored bathrooms

– Ugly wood

– Hollow-wood doors

– Unusually long, formal living rooms

– The loss of front porches and curb appeal in general

– Ugly white “stone” fireplaces

– Old-fashioned intercom systems

– Built-in planters

In my home I’ve tackled some of these design challenges, and some of them are still on my list. (Photos are forthcoming) And yes, I have a long list of positive things that come from ’50s-era homes, including hardwood floors and solid construction, but that’s not what this post is about.

I know I’m missing a bunch from my list of uglies, so feel free to add on.